by Vanessa Mancos
Today my mother sealed me into the pod. I won’t be allowed to leave for six months or two years or ten years or forty-five years, depending on how it goes. I want it to go well, of course, but I don’t know what I am doing in here.
Inside the pod it is humid and dark, quiet and eerie, lonely and nervous. I think I am supposed to be thinking but no one told me what to do so I am mostly just waiting until something happens.
The purpose of the pods: become a woman; grow out of whatever childish things you have picked up along the way; learn to be a mother yourself.
Outside, there are muffled tones every now and then. Someone taps on the enclosure and I am supposed to tap back: one-two-three, so they know I haven’t died. A couple times I thought about not tapping back one-two-three so they’d pull me out and I could see the sun again. I miss the light so much. But then I remembered no one said they pull you out if you are dead, so I tapped back: one-two-three, like the rules state.
In the beginning, I tried to keep track of the days but after you fall asleep more than once it becomes impossible. My skin is sticking to the edges when I wake up, slick with sweat. There is no room to peel myself away and now the pod is a part of me, even though I never gave it permission to intertwine its cells with mine in this way.
After what feels like at least a year, the pod begins to shake. It rattles my brain around inside my skull. Everything is still silent but a cacophony racks my body. I open my mouth and scream for it to end but no sound comes out. One day, when it really feels like I might die if this goes on any longer, it stops. The truth is, I promised I would always follow the rules when I get out if it stopped, and then it stopped.
A few more years later and I open my eyes. I am not in the pod anymore. I am cool and dry. There is light again. My mother wipes the hair out of my eyes with a smile. They place a baby in my arms. “You did such a good job.” They say. But I don’t know what part of what I did was right. And no one tells me.
Vanessa Mancos is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in NY Tyrant,
The Coachella Review and Memoir Mixtapes, among others. She was a finalist for the
2019 Esalen Emerging Voices Fellowship, and has appeared as a storyteller on the
critically acclaimed live show and podcast Mortified! In her spare time, she enjoys hiking,
hanging out with her fluffy Calico cat and finding new and inventive ways to destroy the patriarchy.